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Big Sky, MT (and others) - 2/27 - 3/5

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I just got back from our family trip to Big Sky with my wife, 7 y/o daughter and 4 y/o son.  We were lucky to get out of Philly and into Bozeman on time Friday night and stayed at a Holiday Inn Express near the airport.

Saturday, we drove down to Big Sky, dropped my son off in ski school and then my daughter my wife and I went up Ramcharger to explore Andesite Mountain.  We hit most of the groomers over there before a nice lunch at the Pinnacle.  After lunch we went up Swift Current to explore the groomers over there, plus we did a few runs off the Lone Peak Triple - my daughter and I in the bowl, my wife took the round about route.  By then, it was time to get my son in ski school - my wife did that while I did one more run up Ramcharger, going down Mad Wolf - quite a long mogul run to end a day on.  It had been awhile since they had new snow, but it was a beautiful mostly blue sky day and everything skied really nicely.

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Sunday, we dropped both kids in ski school while my wife and I explored other areas of the mountain.  We went up Swift Current early and took a few runs off that, plus a few runs over by the Shedhorn lift before my wife needed a break.  I headed back towards Ramcharger where I ran into bbinder and his family and friends.  They were in the middle of a mountain tour that I inserted myself into for the last run or 2.  I met up with my wife again for another run while the rest of the group went off for lunch, before we also went in for lunch down at the base.  After lunch, my wife and I headed to the northern part of the mountain shared with Moonlight Basin, that we hadn't seen yet and rode the Iron Horse quad.  After picking up my son, he wanted to go up again so he showed off his skills on Mr. K before it was time to get my daughter.  Another nice day, albeit with no new snow.

Monday, we made a caravan with the bbinder group up to Bridger Bowl to ski with locals nolo, Phil and Dick who gave us an amazing tour of the mountain.  After dropping my son off in ski school, the 12! of us headed off to the Alpine lift on the northern side of the mountain for some gentler warmups.  It was quickly clear what a beautiful place this was.  The snow started off a little crunchy, but quickly softened up thanks to the bright sun and cloudless skies.  Soon, we headed south to Pierre's lift.  Eventually my daughter asked nolo for some trees and bumps for which she quickly obliged.  We also got to the Deer Park lift before lunch at the midmountain lodge.  After that, I was able to get a quick run with Phil in the Slushman's area.  There's some serious terrain over there!  Met up with the group again so that bbinder could take a run over in Slushman's.  The afternoon was spent on all kinds of fun terrain accessed off of Pierre's and Deer Park lifts before 1 last run off of the Bridger lift.  Thanks to everyone who skied with myself, my wife and daugther all day - we had such a great day!  I definitely need to get back to Bridger again.

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I thought Tuesday would be a good day to hit the Tram.  I would be wrong about that.  But first, my son wasn't feeling well so he and my wife took the morning off.  My daughter and I started with a warmup run in Rice Bowl which was quite crunchy - a sign of things to come.  We made it over to the Challenger lift for our first run of the trip off of that.  We were headed to Moonlight, which is the most north facing and probably the gentlest of a number of steep runs off that lift.  Signs warned of the hard, icy snow up there - seeing my daughter (I think) at the top, Ski Patrol suggested we head towards Moonlight, which was our plan anyways.  It was moguled, but the snow was perfectly carveable...little did I know it would turn out to be the best snow we'd find all day.  But since my plan was to head to the tram, that's where we went next.  No line at all there (the reason for this we would soon find out).  It was quite windy on top, where we stopped for a few pictures before getting on to our skis and heading towards Liberty Bowl.  More signs warned of the hard snow up there, but I obviously knew better...not!  After 10 or so nice turns on some blown in snow at the top, I began to question the definition of hard snow in Montana...but then we finally got to the point where it turned quite unfriendly and our "eastern hardpack" experience benefitted us greatly.  It took us awhile, but we made it down.  By the time we got to the bottom, there's a face that looks northeast? towards the Shedhorn lift that finally had some really nice snow to reward us for our efforts.  By that time, we were ready for lunch so we got some at the Shedhorn grill yurt which was really good.  Afterwards, we took the lonnnggg run down Middle Road to the base to meet my wife for an afternoon of skiing.  We took her up the Tram for a sightseeing trip and by that time it had probably become even windier.  They took the tram back down - I wasn't smart enough.  I headed back to Liberty Bowl where the snow hadn't gotten any nicer.  I went all the way down the Dakota chair, it was softer in some parts down there, but still crunchy.  That area with all the trees looks like it would be great with some fresh snow, but that was not to be for us this week.  I went back to the base to meet up with my family again, where I also ran into the bbinder group on the Ramcharger lift who shared a similar Tram experience.  My wife, daughter and I took a few more runs that were also starting to get thin and hard before the end of the day.

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Wednesday we got the dump - all of at most 3 inches.  But it probably saved the rest of the week after the difficult snow of Tuesday.  We headed to Moonlight Basin to check out what was going on over there.  After dropping off my son again in ski school, we headed up the Six Shooter - it was nice to ski some fresh snow on Elkhorn, even though the crunchy stuff was easily hit underneath.  We then headed over to the Lone Tree lift, where we passed bbinder's group yet again.  We were headed to the groomers on the far side of the mountain - Horseshoe and Trembler, which were long, but I found to be quite flat and uninteresting.  Others such as Lookout Ridge, Ice House and Meriwether I found to be much nicer.  I took 2 runs up the Headwaters lift by myself where the snow was really nice.  That's some nice terrain up there.  My daughter and I also thought the snow off the Lone Tree lift into the trees in Broken Heart was also really good.  I would have liked to have spent even more time exploring the trees there.  It was amazing how few people were there.

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Thursday, the rest of the family took the day off so I headed out by myself.  I went up to the Lone Peak Triple area first and played around in the bowl some, traversing as far out as I could.  Good snow from yesterday was still to be found.  Seeing noone in the tram line and hoping for a better experience from Tuesday, I decided to head up again and try some other areas.  There was little/no wind up there, which already was a big difference.  I took a run down Lenin which had really nice snow at least 3/4 the way down.  I headed back towards the Tram and seeing no line, decided to go back up again.  This time visibility was a little less, but I found my way to the 1st Gully, down to Cron's traverse.  The snow in there was really good, although, there were a few rocks showing.  By this point my legs were pretty dead so I did some easier stuff until it was time to meet my family for lunch at the base.  After lunch I headed up to the bowl again and seeing no line again at the tram, I couldn't help but go up again and head down Marx, which also had really good snow almost all the way down.  I was headed down towards the bottom of the Shedhorn lift and ran into bbinder's group again at the Shedhorn Grill.  Some of them were headed to the tram so I asked to join them.  We repeated my 1st Gully to Cron's run and then we did Marx which all still had really nice snow.  But by this time, I was done for the day so I headed back to the base.  This was probably the best snow day of the week.

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Friday there were predictions for a little new snow, but I think we got less than the little that was predicted.  The light was pretty flat most of the day which made it even more difficult on tired legs.  My son was back in ski school for the day, so my wife, daughter and myself did some quick explorations of our favorite spots we had found around the mountain.  We started on Andesite and moved from left to right and back.  We did lunch at the Timbers at Moonlight.  I think my best run of the day was Moonlight off the Challenger lift again.  We ran into bbinder's group again where we did a run off the Lone Peak triple and some of us went back to Ramcharger again.  I finished off with a run with my son after he was done with ski school.

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We stayed at the Lodge at Big Sky which was a really great place, if you're looking for a relatively affordable hotel up there.  It's walkable from the base area, but they also have a shuttle in the morning and the end of the day, which was great with the kids.  Our room was large and well kept.  We had a nice free breakfast there every morning in their great lounge area with beautiful views of the mountain.  We enjoyed their pool, which seemed a bit cold for us, the hot tub and their ping pong table room too.  All of the employees we encountered were extremely friendly.  They had stuff going on in their lounge at night - most nights we were too exhausted to hang out much.  The kids enjoyed a presentation by a naturalist from Moonlight Basin on Thursday afternoon on many of the animals in the area.

I look forward to heading back to the Big Sky area again.  It's really a great place for all abilities, as my family can demonstrate. Plus it's so huge, there was tons of terrain that I know I didn't get to.  While we didn't have the fresh snow that I hoped for, it was still a great trip.

(Sorry for the lack of action pics )
post #2 of 24
One of the better trip reports I've read! Good job SKI-3PO!  Big Sky/MLB is such a great ski area.
post #3 of 24
Wow, making a huge area sound small. "We ran into bbinder." Next day "We ran into bbinder again."

How'd you spot him so much?
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Actually, I wondered that myself.  It's such a huge place, the odds seemed impossible.  After a few occurrences, I promised I wasn't following them, but I'm not sure if they bought it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post

Wow, making a huge area sound small. "We ran into bbinder." Next day "We ran into bbinder again."

How'd you spot him so much?
 
post #5 of 24
Thanks for the report
post #6 of 24
Nice report.

Also, you might have written my trip report to Telluride. The same total lack of freshies, same crunchy snow, same endless bumps with eastern definition of "hard pack". Along with the same big mountain ("if only there's more snow"), small mountain feel ("I'm not following you around, I swear!").

But you missed the nail biting flight cancellation our group had to restle with.
post #7 of 24

Nice review Ski-3PO.Thanks. We are heading out to Big Sky for the first time this Thursday and are also staying at The Lodge. What did you think about the ski school, i am putting my little girl in there for the week.Your trip sounded just like our trip to Aspen 5 weeks ago with the lack of snow, they got a huge dump 2 days after we left, still fun however.Thanks again it was nice to read and see pics from someone who was just there. 

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
I'm sure your little girl will have a great time in ski school.  My kids each enjoyed their instructors and had a great time.  Given the lack of crowds - especially during the week, she'll likely get a near private lesson.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post

Wow, making a huge area sound small. "We ran into bbinder." Next day "We ran into bbinder again."

How'd you spot him so much?
 


I figured that it was serendipitous, or destiny, or both!  Running into Scott and his family (or them running into us) always added an extra spark of energy for our group, although it is kind of amazing how often we ran across each other in such a big place.  Scott rode the tram so much, that we relied on him to be our tour guide up there!  And, BTW, his daughter is an amazing skier for someone so young (reminds me of my daughter at that age)

I blame the lack of snow on my daughter Daria's boyfriend, Steve.  We brought him to Vail last year and skied a week of hardpack and ice.  In fact, I truly believe that we got those 3 inches because Daria and Steve went to Yellowstone that day for a snowmobile tour.
post #10 of 24
(and once I find my camera, I will see if there are any shots worth adding to this TR)
post #11 of 24
Thanks for the report/review.  My girlfriend and I are thinking of heading up that way for our trip next year.  I've only been up there to fly fish the Madison, but can't wait to ski it...such a beautiful place.  Sounds like there is more than enough to keep us busy for a week or more.  Already can't wait.
post #12 of 24
Heading out with the family at the end of march.  Your trip report is fantastic, except for the snow part. Starting to get a little nervous about snow..... 

Anyone have any links to longer range forecasts aka "guesses"....cant seem to find much on the web.

Any further tips, comments on the ski school for the youngens?  Did they rotate instructors all week, groups etc.
post #13 of 24
Nice TR.  Was at Big Sky end of January, and had a great time.  What a nice resort/mountain.  Stayed in Arrowhead condos, which were close, fine, and relatively value priced, but we had access to amenities at the Summit. When we went, the snow was pretty fresh then.  Here's a poster a buddy made from a video screen cap of me going down Challenger....


Challenge poster.bmp
post #14 of 24

Ski-3PO:
I was out at Big Sky the previous week.  They had about 15" a week before we got there so conditions were decent, and had one night with about 3" and another night with about 5" while we were there.  Our second year in a row going there and conditions were about the same both times. This year we did Bridger Bowl on Friday (the 26th) and it was a perfect bluebird day with wonderful conditions.  I was only on the lower mountain, mostly the Alpine lift area (due to the others I was skiing with), but I really want to visit there again and do a bit more exploring.

The weather was getting warm starting on Wednesday, so it's not surprising you had some "crunchy" snow. On the south-facing side, anything that wasn't groomed had a lot of lumps and bumps under any fresh snow.  And Friday was very warm and sunny.

We stayed in the Holiday Inn Express the night of the 26th...we probably crossed paths.

post #15 of 24
Ski3po, great report.  It makes me want to go back there even more than I already wanted to.  Bridger is by far one of my favourite places, for many reasons, not the least of which is the tremendous amount of respect you feel for the mountain when you're skiing there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post

Wow, making a huge area sound small. "We ran into bbinder." Next day "We ran into bbinder again."

How'd you spot him so much?
 

Trust me, no matter how big the place is, Bbinder and crew can be easily found.  Yes, they are that kind of posse!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Dino View Post

Nice TR.  Was at Big Sky end of January, and had a great time.  What a nice resort/mountain.  Stayed in Arrowhead condos, which were close, fine, and relatively value priced, but we had access to amenities at the Summit. When we went, the snow was pretty fresh then.  Here's a poster a buddy made from a video screen cap of me going down Challenger....


Challenge poster.bmp
I love that!  Should be your avatar!
post #16 of 24
Nice TR by one of the nicest guys on Epic with an equally wonderful fam.  Glad you had a great time and next time, tell me, and I'll do my snow dance! Guaranteed!
post #17 of 24
Big Sky 2010 004.jpg

Above: Ridgehippie at Bridger   Below:  nolo at Bridger pointing the way downhill

Big Sky 2010 007.jpg

What's not to like about Bridger Bowl?  Well, maybe it is too crowded...


Big Sky 2010 008.jpg


Daria resting on Liberty Bowl (Big Sky)

Big Sky 2010 016.jpg


Rich skiing the crust on lower Libert Bowl:

Big Sky 2010 019.jpg


Pat and Marcia at Moonlight Basin:

Big Sky 2010 025.jpg



Thet named a trail after my dog, Cuppajo! (they spelled it wrong though)

Big Sky 2010 041.jpg


The Dictator chutes Big Sky  Ski-3PIO:

Big Sky 2010 047.jpg

Steve:

Big Sky 2010 049.jpg


Rich and Daria:

Big Sky 2010 053.jpg

Top of the Lone Peak Tram:

Big Sky 2010 005.jpg
post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 
Nice pics Bob...thanks for sharing.  Daria was really skiing great.  I hope my kids are as interested in skiing...and interested in doing so with their father when they get to that age.

And now we see how it was so easy to find you guys...Bob's jacket and Marcia's pants.
post #19 of 24
We entirely enjoyed skiing with all 12 of you! I loved having your hot skiing kids there to show off some of my favorite trails, though I regret that the snow was not fresh. Thanks for making the long drive over and back to spend a memorable day with us.

(By golly, is that Steve using his poles so nicely in that photo? Please give him my compliments!)   
post #20 of 24
Thanks for pictures, looks like some terrific terrain.  I have Big Sky on my to do list and hope to get out there for few days in the next year or so.  Maybe I'll try to do a short notice trip when conditions are right.
post #21 of 24
Now I'm all excited to go on my trip in 2011!! Those are great conditions compared to what I have skied here in the Midwest! LOL Pretty sad imo... Will be my first trip out west, so hopefully it will be a good experience. Last time I tried to go to Beaver Creek, CO, but Denver airport got hit with a huge snow storm meaning no trip for me! We are going to stay at Powder Ridge.
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbird1991 View Post

Now I'm all excited to go on my trip in 2011!! Those are great conditions compared to what I have skied here in the Midwest! LOL Pretty sad imo... Will be my first trip out west, so hopefully it will be a good experience. Last time I tried to go to Beaver Creek, CO, but Denver airport got hit with a huge snow storm meaning no trip for me! We are going to stay at Powder Ridge.


we are hitting powder ridge at the end of the month. Looks like a nice balance between "away" and close....hope for snow

anyone have any general info on powder ridge...any suggestions, comments would be helpful
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

We entirely enjoyed skiing with all 12 of you! I loved having your hot skiing kids there to show off some of my favorite trails, though I regret that the snow was not fresh. Thanks for making the long drive over and back to spend a memorable day with us.

(By golly, is that Steve using his poles so nicely in that photo? Please give him my compliments!)   

Actually Joan, Thank you!  If you and Phil and Dick were not there, we would have skipped checking out a beautiful mountain!  And Steve said repeatedly the rest of the week:  "if Joan had not given me those pointers, I would not been able to ski that last trail we skied."
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by kbuzz View Post





we are hitting powder ridge at the end of the month. Looks like a nice balance between "away" and close....hope for snow

anyone have any general info on powder ridge...any suggestions, comments would be helpful
 
Umm well i have never actually stayed there. So i don't from First hand experience, but from pictures and stuff it looks awesome. It is right next to green runs that lead straight down to the White Otter lift. Hot tub, garage, all the ammenites look great. If you haven't already booked i would go on www.vrbo.com and book it is generally 50% cheaper than going through the resort.
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